The universe is telling me that I need to start blogging again. In the past few weeks, three people have reached out to me because I/my blog/my writing inspire them. To be honest, these past few weeks I have not felt inspiring. In fact, last night, I went to write a blog about the honest emotions I was feeling during my most recent bout of sickness and I never published it because it was “too negative” and I didn’t think it would embody the spirit of this blog: “a blog about staying positive, defining yourself, and remaining strong throughout it all.”
But there’s something damaging about the censorship we give our lives online. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate to see people complaining on Facebook, and that I’ll often avoid it at times when I don’t feel it is contributing to my own happiness. So how do we remain open and honest online about the more negative aspects of our lives, without draining the energy of those around us?
Generally, as a rule, I’ll only share the negative aspects of my illness when they teach me a lesson, when they can be juxtaposed next to a positive. What could I learn from feeling like crap, not being able to work, and emotionally coping with the fact that, despite this incredible new drug I’m taking, and the exercise I’ve been doing, that I still have CF and my lungs are still rampant with bacteria?
The past few weeks, I was so blindsided by being sick, that I failed to see the message, I failed to see the point, I failed to look on the bright side, or remain strong throughout it all. I had intentions of doing what little exercise I could with a PICC line and a medication that leaves me susceptible to tendon damage, and I simply didn’t. I was lazy. I couldn’t find the energy to feed myself good meals, to get outside and go for a walk every day, or to reflect on the good in each day.
Even once the PICC line was pulled, I promised myself that I would appreciate the freedom and the life I could go back to. But I still wasn’t seeing the lesson. Until, this morning, when I read a text from my friend who went back and read some of my blogs. She sent me one from 2014, the last time I was seriously sick, called 65 Blessings for 65 Roses. In it, I reflected on the same exact feelings I had this time around.
“At the beginning, while I was coping with feeling completely useless and a little bit blindsided, I’ll admit I was not being positive. I felt helpless, and I began to actually believe that I wasn’t going to get better. Then, I decided that I had to start seeing the good in each day if I was ever going to get through it. SO, each night, I wrote down one or two things that either made me smile, that I was grateful for, or that I would typically take for granted were it not for the fact that I was sick.”
What a powerful reminder that the way we react to our own situations is, often times, a choice. Three years ago, I DECIDED that I had better put on my rose colored glasses. This time around, I didn’t. And as a result, my actions did nothing to improve the situation I was in. Reading through the list of blessings I recognized three years ago, I noticed that there were many things going on the past few weeks that I should have been aware of, and appreciated:
The gentle touch of my fiancé, Kyle, at 5AM in the morning, asking me to get my left arm out from under the covers so he could hook up my meds while I slept; the fact that this was the first time he was responsible for assisting with my care, and that he did it without complaint; the warmth of the fire, and the smell of Thai food, as my parents and Kyle played games on New Years Eve; the sound of my dog bounding up the stairs when I woke up each day of the week I spent under the care of my nurse mom; the giggles of my nephews who came to visit; the feeling of a full belly when my mom found the only thing that I could stomach and served it to me, without prompting.
These past few weeks were full of these little moments that, had I reflected upon them at the time, were so meaningful in the grand scheme of things.
Just because you don’t see the sun on a cloudy day, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Even in moments of great tragedy, like the shooting in Ft. Lauderdale last week, there were people who helped to bring others to safety. Choosing to look for, and appreciate, the helpers doesn’t mean this act wasn’t horrifying or terrible, but it helps to see the whole picture, and cope with the fact that we tend to feel the world is only evil at times such as these.
We get so bogged down by the challenges in our lives, that sometimes we forget that our reaction to these events is ours to decide. Choosing to see the lesson in our struggles, or seeing the good during times that should be bad does not diminish our suffering, nor does it mean that we are ignoring or failing to cope with the negative emotions we are feeling. It simply means that we remember the fleeting nature of a moment, and choose to spend that time seeing the whole picture, the good and the bad, so that we can remember that there are always blessings presenting themselves, despite suffering.
So in times when it feels good to complain, and cope with negative experiences, I will be encouraging myself to at least find one good thing about my life in that moment, because the sun is always there, it just may be hard to see.